Relationship between ideology and language in the Catalan independence context

10 December 2019
Samuel Martin-Gutierrez

Political polarization generates strong effects on society, driving controversial debates and influencing the institutions. Territorial disputes are one of the most important polarized scenarios and have been consistently related to the use of language. In this work, we analyzed the opinion and language distributions of a particular territorial dispute around the independence of the Spanish region of Catalonia through Twitter data. We infer a continuous opinion distribution by applying a model based on retweet interactions, previously selecting a seed of elite users with fixed and antagonist opinions. The resulting distribution presents a mainly bimodal behavior with an intermediate third pole that appears spontaneously showing a less polarized society with the presence of not only antagonist opinions. We find that the more active, engaged and influential users hold more extreme positions. Also we prove that there is a clear relationship between political positions and the use of language, showing that against independence users speak mainly Spanish while pro-independence users speak Catalan and Spanish almost indistinctly. However, the third pole, closer in political opinion to the pro-independence pole, behaves similarly to the against-independence one concerning the use of language.